The hypealicious, hyperluxus Apple Watch debut–what the healtherati are interested in

click to enlargeL’œil de Gimlet eyes the Apple Watch. What’s down the road is more important than Monday’s unveil. Certainly The Eye, an adorer of all things over-the-top, would love to have the $10,000-and-up 18 karat, Daddy Warbucks, Solid Gold Cadillac edition of the Apple Watch. It is the sheer hyperluxus, Mercedes-Maybach S600-ness of it all that races my pulse. Stop at $4,000? Nein! $10,000 and up lends a golden glow to all those ordinary, plastic-banded, Mickey Mouse-faced $349 and up versions for the Applepolloi that take that pulse, burp your wrist when you’re not moving enough, open the garage door, play tunes and let you draw little thingies on the face that you can send to your friends. (Urp) What’s even better than a Merc-Maybach in Conspicuous Consumption-Ville? That it will be out of date in a year, unless Apple has a trade-in policy.

click to enlarge Cue Tim Cook and the Happy Dance of the Watches. (Photo: Zuma/Rex via Guardian)

click to enlargeCue Shirley Bassey. (Gigaom via Twitter)

Ah, but let us get down to business and cut our swathe through the fog d’hype. (Editor Donna just walked in the door…)

As predicted and projected, the Apple Watch in stores 24 April in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, UK and US goes light and standard on health measurement features: accelerometer, heart rate sensors, running and weekly activity reports. What’s different? Wrist burps you if you’re a lazy, sitting sod. (Not a great feature for deep meditators or napsters.) The leak from two weeks ago feinted health through downplaying the functionality of the Watch. Back in September, claims included blood pressure and stress monitoring. [TTA 18 Feb]

Now for the right cross. It’s not the Watch, it’s the ResearchKit. Apple gets serious in health apps beyond HealthKit, partnering with the stars in the medical research firmament. As reported:

  • The ResearchKit can pull data from other applications as well as HealthKit, which has 900-odd apps alone. iPhone users can opt-in to use these research apps and essentially, crowdsource participation, a boon to researchers. HealthKit also integrates with the Epic EHR.
  • Five research applications were created by Apple in conjunction with leading academic healthcare organizations.
    1. A Parkinson’s Disease app that analyzes gait after 20 steps with an iPhone in the pocket: University of Rochester, Xuanwu Hospital and Capital Medical University.
    2. Diabetes research: Massachusetts General Hospital
    3. Asthma: Mount Sinai Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical College
    4. Cardiovascular disease: Stanford University and the University of Oxford
    5. Breast cancer: Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, UCLA School of Public Health and Penn Medicine
click to enlargeIt’s all open source biometric data; these five apps are now available in the App Store. According to TNW, the apps will allow researchers to crowdsource data and gain participants far more easily and diversely than now by inviting millions of worldwide iPhone users (Comscore fall 2014 estimates 71 million in US alone) to opt-in and contribute their data. The potential for research, for clinical trials and we hope for rare/orphan conditions could be major. Adam Estes in Gizmodo gets Gimlety on the privacy concerns, databases on databases and the hacking potential.  (Parkinson’s app: TNW)

How these iPhone apps will interface with the Watch, and how the Watch itself develops unique aspects of health tracking, will be breathlessly speculated on by the healthdigerati. Right now, Press Eyes are on Apple Breaking the Sound Barrier to be a $1 trillion company. The Guardian does a fine job of summarizing the Android smartwatch ‘feh’ to date with about 7 million (mainly Pebbles) shipped. Yet analysts estimate 8-40 million Apple Watches shipped through 2015. The pace through spring and summer–and reports of glitches–will tell. AFP/Yahoo!NewsAP News/MyWay, AppleInsider, MedCityNews, The Guardian (on the gold watch and Sir Jony Ive, the designer), TNW condenses the announcement into one long list and the Apple video on the ResearchKit. Hat tip to the dapper Dr. David Albert of AliveCor for the Gizmodo article via Twitter.

Update 11 Mar: Gigaom has several takes on the Watch including ApplePay, which has application to pharmacies and urgent care. We mention these as the swan song of Om, one of the better tech business sites, as it ceased publishing operations immediately after these articles were posted. Requiescat in pace and we wish the best to their editorial writers and staff in their future pursuits.

Ah, diversity...now that has come into question for those research trials. Much research around the Applepolloi indicates that they are higher income than the Androidpolloi (Comscore) and more ‘upscale’ in their lifestyles (Forbes) but overall, smartphone users are a slice of the more affluent and tech-comfortable. A writer in BuzzFeed collects the academic frets on whether the research samples are going to be diverse enough to match the diseases that may disproportionately affect the less affluent or ethnic. But then again, these samples take a lot of work to make representative–often their most significant problem is having enough volunteers!

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